Understanding Obama Care
ObamaCare is a set of laws meant to provide greater access to healthcare to US citizens. It contains many different articles meant to focus on elements of a perceived “healthcare crisis” in the US. The main goals are to make sure more Americans are covered by health insurance, to decrease the cost of healthcare-related spending, and to improve the quality of the health insurance available.
ObamaCare is actually a nickname—the full title of this set of laws is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The act was officially signed by President Obama on 3/23/2010.
What are the main elements of ObamaCare?
ObamaCare is an expansive set of provisions, but here are some of the main components:
- New benefits and protections
- A new health insurance marketplace where health plans can be purchased during the open enrollment period
- Expanding both Medicaid and employer coverage in many states
- Improving Medicare coverage
- Mandatory coverage for most people in the US, except those who have an exemption or pay a yearly fee
- New health care taxes (and some tax breaks)
Note: HealthCare.Gov is the government’s official website where you can shop for plans and qualify for Medicaid.
Where did ObamaCare come from?
ObamaCare was championed and signed by President Obama. However, the ideas behind ObamaCare come from ideas implemented over the years by both political parties. In fact, one major inspiration for the idea was “Romney Care”, a health insurance reform law passed in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney.
More details on ObamaCare
- You may be curious what ObamaCare means for you specifically. Here are some facts that will help you get a better idea, and aid you in your search for reasonable health insurance coverage.
- There is an open enrollment period each year where people can buy health insurance plans in or out of the marketplace. The next open enrollment period goes from November 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017.
- The act will provide subsidies for those making less than 400% of the federal poverty level. These subsidies include premium tax credits, Medicaid, cost-sharing reduction subsidies, and CHIP.
- The act also includes many, many pages of reforms for both health insurance and health care provider companies—all of which are aimed to lower the costs of health care, which have dramatically increased.
- Before ObamaCare, you could be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, be charged more depending on your gender, or be dropped for making a quick mistake on your initial application. Since the act, you have greater protections against these kinds of issues.
- Before ObamaCare, about 16% percent of Americans did not have health insurance, mostly because they could not afford it. Since the act was passed, that number is below 10%.
- ObamaCare also includes Medicare reforms, such as making sure those who have Medicare benefits still have the same rights and protections as those on regular insurance plans.
- Small businesses are now eligible for subsidized health insurance.
- Large employers are now required to provide health insurance for all full-time employees.
- If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll be required to get an exemption or pay a fee on your tax return (for every month you didn’t have coverage). You’ll need to have more than temporary health insurance to avoid a fee – “minimum essential coverage” is required, which can be purchased through the marketplace during open enrollment. You can also purchase insurance during other months if you have a qualifying event, such as starting a new job or getting married.
What is the Marketplace?
The health insurance marketplace, or the exchange, is a place where people can go to compare and pick health insurance plans. They can also receive cost assistance there. Every state has its own marketplace for health insurance.
Through the marketplace, many people are eligible for subsidies on health insurance—this amount could be somewhere from 2% to 9.5% of their Modified Gross Adjusted Income.
If you don’t have a life-changing event, the marketplace is only available during open enrollment. So be sure to purchase health insurance than to avoid paying any penalty fees. Also, note that insurance bought prior to the 15th of each month starts on the first of the next month.
ObamaCare going forward
ObamaCare has continued to expand since its inception in 2010. Individual mandates and employer mandates that started in 2014 helped more Americans gain access to health insurance. In 2016, over 95% of full-time employees were provided insurance by their employers. Most of the major provisions of ObamaCare are now already in place. By 2022, all of the PPACA’s provisions should be in effect.
What are some other elements of ObamaCare?
- Provisions to reduce the growth of Medicare spending
- Providing more preventive services with health insurance, many that do not require a copay or coinsurance
- Making sure health insurance is available to every US citizen and legal resident, regardless of their employer
- Expanding Medicaid to cover more uninsured people from lower-income households
- Cutting or reallocating government spending on ineffective healthcare programs
We hope this article has helped you understand ObamaCare better. The more you are educated on its ins and outs, the more power you have to make informed healthcare decisions. SureCo Health and Life agents are certified Federal Marketplace agents. To speak with an agent, please call (866) 235-5515.